For the last five years, Ohio State has reigned supreme in the Big Ten. And coming into this season, the Buckeyes are once again the preseason favorites to win the conference crown. However, one of the teams that will be standing in their way is the Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa lost some pieces on defense and they lost their best offensive lineman, but the Hawkeyes return one of the top quarterbacks in the conference in Ricky Stanzi and they also have arguably the best defensive player in the conference as well in Adrian Claybourne.
Last year the Hawkeyes went into Columbus with a backup quarterback, took the Bucks down to the wire and lost in overtime to lose out on a Rose Bowl berth. This season, the Hawkeyes get the defending champions at Kinnick Stadium in a game that could very well decide the Big Ten Championship again.
Kirk Ferentz joined 1620 the Zone in Omaha with Kevin and Mike L to talk about how Adrian Claybourne is handling all the preseason hype, how good Ricky Stanzi has been for the Hawkeyes, how tough it is going to be to replace some of the players that departed, and what he thinks about Nebraska joining the Big Ten.
On how Adrian Claybourne is handling the preseason hype:
“I think that’s really the sign of great players. Adrian has had a tremendous career for us and I’m very confident he will play well for us this year. I really think no matter what level, great players play because they want to be as good as they possibly can be and perform to their highest level. I think that’s really what differentiates the guys that truly are great and the guys that are good, really good. We’ve been fortunate. We’ve had some outstanding players come through our program the last 10 years, five have national awards. It was fun to watch Suh on film and on TV and I’m just glad Adrian is on our side. I think he has the opportunity to have a great season this year.”
On Ricky Stanzi:
“Yeah. It’s one of the great stories. Despite all the faults, the weaknesses, and problems he may be experiencing, he still found a way to quarterback us to 18 victories over the last couple of years. We all try to work on weaknesses and work on correcting things that are improvable, but I also like to focus on strengths of players and Rick’s are very, very many. I feel extremely fortunate, all of us do, that Rick is our quarterback right now and can’t say enough about the way he plays on the field. But more importantly is the attitude that he displays on a daily basis. Leadership he provides our football team and I ditto the same thing on Adrian Claybourne. Same types of guys.”
On the significance of the Nebraska game in the future:
“I think wherever it is it’s going to have special significance because of the border situation. It’s gonna be good. At the end of the year, then the people in Minnesota are gonna be mad so I guess you can flip a coin with all that stuff. I do remember a day in the 80’s when we didn’t play Minnesota at the end of the season. My first couple of years at least at Iowa that was an early October game I believe it was. Those things all change in time. The bottom line is it’s going to be a game that certainly attracts a lot of interest regionally out of both states. I think it’s a great thing. I think it’s a great addition for the Big Ten. It’s gonna make the conference that much more competitive and that much harder to compete in. At the end of the day I think it’s gonna make us stronger and that’s a great thing.”